Heckscher Museum of Art
|Location||2 Prime Avenue,
Huntington, New York
|Director||Michael W. Schantz, Ph.D., Executive Director and CEO|
|Curator||Lisa Chalif, Curator|
The Heckscher Museum of Art is located in scenic Heckscher Park, in Huntington, New York, within walking distance of downtown shops and award-winning restaurants. The Museum provides a dynamic schedule of changing exhibitions on American art. Additionally, public programs for adults, families, and children, include First Friday concert series, gallery talks, festivals and workshops.
In 1920, the German-American industrialist and developer August Heckscher opened the Museum and park for the benefit of the people of Huntington and the surrounding region. Operated by a private foundation, the Museum presented works from Mr. Heckscher's collection of Old Masters such as Lucas Cranach the Elder, François Girardon, and Henry Raeburn, as well as American painters like Thomas Moran, Ralph Albert Blakelock, and George Inness .
The modern life of The Heckscher Museum began in 1957 when the Town of Huntington delegated operational responsibility for the Museum to the Board of Trustees of a newly formed, non-profit corporation. The collection began to grow, and the museum developed an active exhibitions schedule and new initiatives. In 1962, Eva Gatling was hired as Director, one of the first women to direct an art museum in the United States. During her tenure, the Museum made an important acquisition with the purchase of George Grosz’s (1853-1959) Eclipse of the Sun, 1926- a monumental painting from the height of Grosz’s activity in Berlin. Other significant pieces were added to the collection during her 16-year career, including works by American Modernist Arthur Dove (1880-1946) who, like Grosz, had lived in Huntington for an extended period.
The addition of the Baker/Pisano Collection in 2001 focusing on nineteenth-and twentieth-century American works of art was the single largest gift to the Museum since Mr. Heckscher’s founding donation. A major historic preservation and renovation project was initiated in 2007, upgrading the exhibition galleries and highlighting the original architectural features of the museum.
Today The Heckscher Museum seeks to thrive and grow in four areas – education, public programs, collections, and exhibitions.
The Heckscher Museum of Art’s collection spans 500 years with particular emphasis on American and European art from the nineteenth- through twenty-first centuries. Established in 1920 with a gift of 185 works donated by August Heckscher, the collection now numbers more than 2,500 pieces by American and European artists. American landscape painting and works by Long Island artists, past and present, are particular strengths, as is American and European modernism.
A major work in the collection is Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Virgin, Child, St. John the Baptist and Angels, 1534, which was painted in the artist’s native Germany. Other old master works include seventeenth-century Dutch and Italian paintings and English portraiture, including artists such as Sir William Beechey, Melchior D'Hondecoeter, Nicolas de Largillierre, Sir Henry Raeburn, Cornelis Verbeeck, and Anthonie Verstraelen. Nineteenth-century European holdings include works by Eugène Louis Boudin, Gustave Courbet, and Jean Léon Gérôme.
Nineteenth-century American landscape painting in the Heckscher Museum collection includes Frederic Church’s Autumn, 1845, Asher B. Durand’s Keene Valley, 1860s, George Inness’s, The Pasture, Durham, Connecticut, c. 1879, and Albert Bierstadt’s, Autumn Landscape, undated, as well as works by Ralph Albert Blakelock, Alfred Thompson Bricher, and Samuel Colman. The Moran family of landscape painters, many of whom lived on Long Island, is well-represented with works by Thomas Moran, Edward Moran, E. Percy Moran, Leon John Moran, Mary Nimmo Moran, and Peter Moran. The museum also owns a rare Winslow Homer tile painting, The Resting Shepherdess, 1878, and Thomas Eakins’s sketch for The Cello Player, 1896.
The Museum's Baker/Pisano Collection includes Georgia O’Keeffe’s watercolor Machu Picchu (Peruvian Landscape), 1956, as well as works by Oscar Bluemner, Charles Burchfield, Charles Demuth, Guy Pène du Bois, Rockwell Kent, Paul Manship, John Marin, Charles Sheeler, Joseph Stella, and Max Weber.
The Museum has significant holdings of three important Huntington artists: the American modernists Arthur Dove (1880-1946), Helen Torr (1886-1967), and the Berlin Dadaist George Grosz (1893-1959). Except for five years spent in Dove's hometown of Geneva, NY, Dove and Torr lived in Huntington from 1924 until their respective deaths. Prime examples of their work are Dove’s watercolor Boat, 1932, his oil painting Indian Summer, 1941, and Helen Torr’s oil Oyster Stakes, 1929. George Grosz lived in Huntington from 1947 to 1959, the year he died. The Museum’s Grosz holdings comprise fifteen paintings and works on paper, including the masterpiece Eclipse of the Sun, 1926, an allegory about greed, power, and corruption in Germany’s military-industrial complex during the 1920s. Many consider Eclipse of the Sun to be one of the most important artworks of the twentieth-century.
Abstract art by the Russian-born Ilya Bolotowsky and his wife Esphyr Slobodkina, who were founding members of the American Abstract Artists group, is another strength in the collection. Bolotowsky is represented by more than 100 paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints; Slobodkina by sixty-five paintings, watercolors, collages, and drawings. Other twentieth-century artists represented in the collection are Josef Albers, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Salvador Dali, Stuart Davis, Elaine de Kooning, Red Grooms, Marsden Hartley, Fernand Léger, Seymour Lipton, Henry Moore, Jules Olitski, Fairfield Porter, and Jane Wilson.
In photography, the Museum has extensive holdings by Berenice Abbott, Larry Fink, and Eadweard Muybridge. In 2007, the collection received an important gift of Man Ray’s Electricité portfolio of 1931, consisting of ten rayographs commissioned by a Parisian electric company, the Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution d'Electricité (CPDE), to promote the domestic uses of electricity.
The Heckscher Museum of Art offers grade-specific K-12 programs for students in Suffolk and Nassau Counties. Educational programs meet the New York State Learning Standards for the Arts. The Museum offers an array of public programs for adults, families and children, including musical performances and workshops. Programs enhance the museum-going experience, encourage inquiry and creativity, and broaden interest in the arts. Additionally, the annual Long Island's Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum juried exhibition is a longstanding hallmark of the Museum’s educational programs, in which high school students further connect their experiences in the Museum to art making in the classroom. Long Island's Best exhibition is the only juried exhibition of its kind on Long Island that provides students with the unparalleled opportunity to exhibit their artwork in a museum. The quality of the artwork is exceptional and delivers a professional-level show.
The Heckscher Museum of Art offers an active schedule of changing exhibitions. Past exhibitions include: You Go Girl! Celebrating Women Artists, Graphic Appeal: Modern Prints from the Collection, Before Selfies: Portraiture through the Ages, Modern Alchemy: Experiments in Photography, Stan Brodsky: Retrospective, Car Culture: Art and the Automobile, Modernizing America: Artists of the Armory Show, Max Weber on Long Island, Coming of Age in America: The Photography of Joseph Szabo, and Ripped: The Allure of Collage.
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